Buenos Aires assault and attempted robbery
Robbed in broad daylight in Palermo Soho. A guy tackled me from behind and threw me to the ground. He ripped my watch off my hand and ran down the street. A man chased him and a bunch of citizens tackled him. I was detained by the police for a long time but managed to get my watch back. Lessons learned. Don't wear any jewelry. They trued the stain scam on my husband in a public restroom. They spray your shirt then try to "help" you by pulling your wallet out. My husband didn't carry his wallet in his back pocket so they didn't succeed.
Attacked and Robbed
I was on a guided tour with a group of 11 people in supposedly the safest area in Buenos Aires. The park by the Memorial Tower; right across the street from the Plaza Hotel. We were staked out by a group of 4 thugs that attacked us from the back and stole my Rolex watch off my wrist. There were 2 on motorcycles and 1 on bicycle and 1 the attacker that passed off the jewelry before we could recover it! The guys in my group did take the attacker to the ground and we were able to put him in jail, but his attorney beat up to the police station to try to get him out. It is a horrible situation!!! I personally talked to 7 more people that had been robbed of their watches in the same week. Then heard on the plane home that the pilot had been stabbed and robbed in the last week!!!! I will never travel there again!! I do hope this post will help to keep others from becoming a victim of the rampant crime happening in Buenos Aires!!
Money issues - ATMs and American dollars
Even though the ATMs supposedly give the option of withdrawing Argentine pesos or American dollars, they do not dispense dollars anymore (dollars are restricted for purchase and sale). You can only withdraw pesos, and dollars are not available at banks either.
If you are required (or encouraged) to pay a deposit or other fees in American dollars (for example, for some study-abroad or work-abroad programs, you might have to pay a deposit for your apartment), have the correct amount ready in cash before you even arrive in Argentina. Otherwise, you'll have a hard time getting your hands on the dollars you'll need.
The only place you can exchange dollars for pesos is in the airport, and only in the Banco de la Nación booth (not in ATMs). Also, if you take a day/weekend trip to Uruguay, you can exchange dollars there (for Uruguayan pesos).
Returning home with leftover Argentine Pesos
I had about $100 CAD worth of Argentine pesos left after my trip, and planned on exchanging them for Canadian dollars after returning home. When I arrived in the Toronto airport (right before my flight to Montreal), I went to the currency exchange booth and they told me they can't exchange pesos. Apparently, they are controlled and cannot be exchanged in Canada. I asked if they could exchange them for American dollars, and they said no to that too. I figure I can keep them and bring them on my next trip, but it can be frustrating not to be able to exchange money when you're expecting to be able to.
If you have a lot of leftover pesos and no plans to return to Argentina soon, exchange them for your currency of choice before leaving Argentina. If your country's currency is not available, then exchange them for American dollars. USDs are easy to exchange anywhere so you'll be able to exchange those for your own currency once you get home, even if you have to pay small fees for exchanges.
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Targeted for Thefts
My husband and I were targeted twice. One time in the subway. My smartphone was stolen from my fanny pack. The thief evidently watched what compartment I put it in. He came and sat besides me on the train, pretended to cough badly and to vomit while stealing my smart phone. He got off the train at the next stop pretending to keep vomiting. I then immediately realized that one of my fanny pack's zippers was open and the smart phone stolen.
The second time we were targeted while walking on the street. Something was spilled on us from above and 2 people (a man and a woman) started to clean us with their tissues. When the lady asked my husband, 'where are you from, sir?', I remembered the warning that I read from a guide and politely refused the help. The guide had described this method as a way thieves/criminals are using to steal stuff from your pockets.
Since then we avoided walking and traveling on our own.
Your bags safety-airports
At the airports you often see a guy with a machine that offers to wrap your bag in plastic wrap. To deter some who might have the opportunity from opening your bags. Some friends reported some items missing as a result of coming into Ezeiza. I personally had no problems, but it seemed like a worthwhile investment. It was quite cheap.
BA, the usual and rough sidewalks
We just returned from a trip which started in Santiago, through Bariloche to a week in Buenos Aires. In general, everyone we met was fantastic and more concerned about our welfare and safety than we were. However, some things to note: at 2 am the police go home. If you are out roaming the streets after hours, take taxis, travel in groups and be cautious because help is not easily available. Follow the local customs: Ladies, take either a small bag with only your essentials in it, or use a purse that is held high under the arm and has a zipper. No extra pockets, flaps, etc. If you set your purse down, make sure it is under the table, tucked away, next to a wall, and out of reach of a grab. Don't open your whole inner purse to take out your wallet - know what is in your wallet, reach in, take out what you need quickly and precisely and zip it back up. Keep your valuables in a safe. You sometimes need a passport for identification - like for buying tickets - but it is usually enough to know your number. Carry a photocopy if you need to remember. Locals are worried about individuals who are out of control on drugs. They say there are regular violent murders by people who are drug-sick. What I saw was a very clean, orderly city (we stayed in Palermo SoHo) so I'm not sure if this is in other areas, but I trust the locals to know what they are talking about. On a more everyday level, tipping is highly confusing. 10% seems to be the standard, but in addition, some restaurants include the tip (servicio incluyo) and others do not. The locals say "use your eyes" as they find it confusing, too. We asked, and no-one seemed put out that we were asking. Note that we did not find a single instance where you could add your tip if you paid by credit card, so carry sufficient cash for tipping and make sure you aren't double paying (servicio incluyo plus tip). Taxi drivers are almost insulted if you tip, but since small bills and coins are in short supply, they seem quite happy to settle the difference by rounding up, leaving them a small amount. for example, on a taxi bill of 14.63 (ARP), if you only have a ten and a five, you can say "keep the change" and everyone agrees that is the most sensible thing to do. There is no loss of face. The only place we actually got ripped off was by a clerk in the subway station where we bought our tickets. She refused to give us the correct price. Two young girls also pressed up close while I was buying the tickets, almost touching me even though the station was almost empty. Finally, be warned that sidewalks are maintained by the individual property owners facing the streets and are very rough and uneven. The surfaces change every few steps. Lighting is often also poor at night and the cars and motorcycles cut very close to the curb and drive as fast as they can. After all this, have fun! It is a great city.
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The best way to move around Buenos Aires is by Taxi. There are thousands of taxis in the streets at any hour. You can hail a taxi anywhere, not just at taxi stands. When you see a taxi with a red light on in the windshield, it means it is available. Taxis are very inexpensive for tourists. You will never spend more than $10-15 usd if you travel within the city. There were several problems with unauthorized taxis that scammed tourists, so MAKE SURE you pick a taxi with the “RADIO TAXI” sign, and the official stickers on the windshield!
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Increased pricing for outdoor seating
Be sure to look at the menu closely or ask the wait staff if there is additional cost to eat outside at a cafe that has sidewalk tables. It could be substantial. However the cost is different at each location and some do not have an extra charge at all.
In the photo below, the price for outdoor seating in on the right column. Each item has an additional cost, not just one flat fee!
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Beware of Thieves in Buenos Aires
My husband and I travelled to Lima, Cusco, Puno (Peru), La Paz (Bolivia), Iguaçu Falls, Buenos Aires (Argentina), Montevideo (Uruguay) and Santiago (Chile) in September and October 2011. I felt safe in all the cities except for Buenos Aires where I was targeted twice. We were walking around Plaza de Mayo when a man and two women attempted to rob us. The man (behind) sprayed us with something that looked like bird poop then two women (ahead) tried to wipe if off while at the same time trying to get into our pockets. They didn't get anything.
Another time I was by myself on Florida Street. I had a backpack on with my hat, map and ereader in it. The backpack was secured with a carabiner and the ereader was attached to a carabiner at the bottom on my bag. A man bumped me so hard I almost fell. When I righted myself three women came up behind me. I felt a tug on my pack and turned around. I was sandwiched between the man and women and couldn't escape so I stopped and leaned against the wall. They left but once I started walking they were on me again. One of the women (wore a black shawl over her coat) was very aggressive and grabbed my bag before I entered the Pacifica mall where there were security guards. They didn't get anything.
All seven thieves were indigenous, around 30 years old and wore black clothes.
With these attacks and the recent killings of French tourists in Argentina, I won't be returning to that country.
a couple approach you. "Probre sito" and indicate that you have gunk squirted on your trousers on your wallet side. The woman pulls out a tissue and starts to clean your trousers, in my case sheperding me into a bus shelter. She then moves around your back while the guy continues to clean your trousers. The woman at ths stage has pulled out a bottle of water to help clean you up - but then she spills some water on your shirt at the same point that the guy is kneeling down beside your pocket. While you are reacting to the spilt water on your shirt, the guy has your wallet out of your pocket without you feeling a thing!
Fortunately I saw my wallet at that point, recovered it, said thank you and walked off.
I suspect their technique is not to be violent, but I suspect that if I had not seen my wallet in that split second, I doubt that I would have seen it again!
Take care! Especially in streets with few people.
Traveling alone in Argentina
Argentina is probably one of the safer countries, probably safer than the U.S. Of course in larger cities there's always people that want to take advantage of tourist such as pick pockets, lousy cab drivers and such. The people are friendly and helpful. Just about nobody speaks english, so it would help to learn some spanish phrases to get you by. Hotel staff and restaurant staff is most likely to speak english, but don't count on it. I never met a cabbie in Argentina that spoke any english.
My daughter has been there in various cities for a few weeks. She did a travel website, travelingcheapwithcharlie.com and her focus is the single young woman traveling abroad.
Also, my cousin's kid, same age, mid-twenties has been to just about every corner of Argentina and has taken public transportation, busses and has felt safe there and has gone back.
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US, UK, Canada or Australia? It'll cost you more.
Beware and be prepared for the "reciprocity fee" upon entering Buenos Aires by air from outside the country (at EZE) if you're from the US, Canada, Britain or Australia. After 9/11, when governments from the countries above greatly tightened airport and air security, their demands cost the Argentine government a good number of pesos to meet standard. Soooooooo "in return", the Argentinian government charges citizens of the countries above a "reciprocity fee" when they arrive in Argentina at EZE international airport from abroad.... anywhere abroad.
Now, they only charge this fee once, and after that - you will have a sticker in your passport that is good for multiple re-entries into Argentina through EZE for the next ten years. But on that first pass into the country, Americans, Brits, Australians and Canadians get popped for about US$140 each. The reciprocity fee. It's the Argentine government recouping as much of the expense thrust upon them by the US, UK, Canadian and Australian governments as they can, FROM only the citizens of those countries.
PS and FWIW, Argentine airports are generally pretty well run. But it's my opinion - and only my opinion - that they're not QUITE doing as much on the security front as the American government thinks that they are. That "second" canvassing we went through before boarding our return flight was basically a bunch of gate agents and ticket agents just asking questions and fiddling around with carryon baggage. They were nice and quite helpful - almost apologetic, but.... I honestly don't think they've had much training in profiling suspicious individuals trying to board the plane. But, just MHO.
On the plus side, it does encourage us to do something that we really think we'd like anyway, ie visit Argentina again, just to get our money's worth on those reciprocity stamps.
Buenos Aires, safety, Spanish school recommendatio
You won`t be targeted as a tourist because there are many Chinese people who were borned or have lived in Argentina for many years. So, probably people won`t think that you are a tourist (at least if you have the typical camara, map, etc,).
As to Spanish lessons, I can reccommend you the Spanish school I attended: Verbum school: My teachers were very good, the staff helpful and is located in a safe and central area of the city.
girls, don't do this!!!!!!!!!
I'm a college student studying in Capital Federal. Met a guy a liked a lot. We met in a cafe in the morning. He helped me with my Spanish. We met at the cafe for several mornings in a row. I started calling him my boyfriend.
After the third meeting we decided to go out that evening. The plan was to met that evening at the same cafe and decide where to go.
I'm used to deciding where we go. American guys usually defer to the girl. During the day I asked my friends where a cool place to go would be in Recoleta. The general consensus was a pub/bar named Shoeless Joe's El Alamo. I had heard of it but never gone there.
That evening I was ready with my suggestion. What I didn't know was that in Argentinean culture the guy decides everything. No input from me.
Ok, I can live with that. Much to my surprise he took me to Shoeless Joe's El Alamo - the same place I had in mind.
So far so good. The place is OK. Occupies en entire Beautiful old building. Packed with a younger upscale crowd. For some reason they just kept bringing me drinks. I was a little worried that my boyfriend would be stuck with a huge bill. He told me not to worry abou it.
Went to the bathroom. When I returned my boyfriend was in an animated, serious conversation with another girl. It turns out they were a couple until a few weeks ago. In front of my eyes they made up and I was sort of like the third wheel.
Well, I thought, I show him up. Usually I can attract guys like ants on honey. Looked around.
Didn't look good. Lots and lots of really hot girls in El Alamo. Started giving one guy the eye. He joined us. Soon after my ex-boyfriend left with his girlfriend and I was left alone with my new friend.
Sounds OK but really it isn't. I liked my ex-boyfriend a lot. Wish I was still with him.
My advice is, don't take your boyfriend to Shoeless Joe's El Alamo. There are way to many hot chicks there and you might end up like me - out in the cold.
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